First case of sheep scab in almost 30 years identified

A ram imported from the mainland into a Shetland flock has tested positive for sheep scab, with the infection spreading into other animals on the holding. 

This is the first time the infection has been identified in Shetland since 1994. 

The SIC said the prompt action of the owner had enabled the infection to be identified and action taken to protect other flocks.

The council said the infected ram was treated at the pier with Cydectin, but it “appears this was ineffective”.

“Where mites are resistant to injectable products, sheep dipping remains the only treatment option,” the SIC said.

Officers from the council’s environmental health team are now working with farmers, crofters, vets, the shipping company involved and other government agencies to resolve the situation.

This includes a programme of tracing potential contacts, testing and treating.

The flock directly affected, and those neighbouring, will be treated by dipping.

Farmers and crofters who have imported sheep which travelled up in the same container as the infected ram have been notified, and testing will be undertaken to identify any infection.

Flocks where infection is identified, and flocks with high risk contacts will all also have to be treated.

The SIC’s veterinary advisor Hilary Burgess says it was vital that the farming and crofting community continue to work together to control this disease.

“Sheep scab is now on Shetland, and we’d ask that farmers and crofters are extremely vigilant.

“Early signs are rubbing, scratching, biting at flanks, and tags of fleece pulled out.  These signs can very much resemble lice infections.

“As a precaution, sharing of equipment between flocks should be kept to a minimum and equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between holdings.

“We are asking farmers and crofters to be aware that sheep scab is now on Shetland and to take appropriate precautions.

“By working together as a community we can rid Shetland of this disease once again.”


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